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Do. Or do not. There is no try.
– Joda,Starwars.

I was taking strain trying to maintain the bond of peace with a very very close family member.
Whatever i tried, did, say….a manipulative and paranoid spirit would spew forth from this person.
Often i would explode in defense and daggers would fly back and forth and we would both end up wounded.

I remember talking to God saying:" Lord , this is so difficult. I am always left having fits of rage and anger. I end up judging her and i walk around with hurt and bitterness.

With a pouting face, i approached God:
"i will apologise, even though she is wrong, and i will ask You to forgive and heal the hurt i feel.
Its just, Lord, why is she like this.?
I love her so much and have given up so much for her!! "

I was waiting for Gods Spirit to enfold me in comfort and love.
I expected Him to say:
" i know, i know my child how hard you try"
Instead, the words of 1 Cor 13 popped up:
"Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy or boast and is not proud.
It is not rude,selfseeking or easily angered.
It keeps no record of the wrong.
It does not delight in evil. It always protects, trusts,hope and persevere.
Love never fails."

I was stunned.
How easily we claim to love…….and yet our love maybe contains ONLY one or two of above aspects,yet lack everything else.

It took me a minute or two to realise that God was not comforting me, but challenging me!

The moment His insinuation hit me,i jumped into defense:
" Lord!! Ok ok, i get it. But i DO love her!! See how much i sacrificed! You, Yourself showed Your love through sacrifice!! Come on!! That 1 Cor 13 love is impossible!! Its supernatural!!
You expect me to fully love like that, You need to help me"

Since that day i tried. God knows, i tried so hard!!
I would pray almost daily:" help me love with a 1 Cor 13 love"
I TRIED to be patient. I TRIED to be kind. I TRIED not to get easily angered.
I TRIED!!

Daily i would fail in my trying.
I may get the" fits of rage" part right, but then i would find myself " keeping record of the wrong"
Or i would get the "always hope, always belief "part right but then fail on the " rude and selfseeking" part.
I kept trying and kept being hurt, over and over…..

In exasperation i cried: " i am trying so hard! I am not Jesus!! I cant do this! You are not helping!!"

No answer……for months and years on end.

So i kept trying….and kept failing…….

Pure exhaustion brought me to a place where i decided to stop trying.

" ok Lord. I now fail dismally.
I give up on the part of " always hoping, always persevering"
I used to belief that love never fails.
I dont anymore."

I stuck to the part of " love is kind" but not because I loved, but because i felt driven by guilt..
I no longer hoped,believed and decided not to persevere.

Something strange and unexpected happened.

As i backed off doing acts of kindness in the hope to " see a return of love-fruit", God started to reveal things to me.
I realised with a shock that the love i had for this family member had portions of
" selfseeking" to it.
To my horror i realised that at times i " do acts of kindness" with " conditions" attached to it.
How often do we reach out to others with expectation to
have a return: a smile, a thank you, a certain positive response.

" that is absolutely NOT true LORD," i protested!!
" i show kindness because i want to bless her!"

" Then why do you get angry when she does not eat the cake you baked her but give it away or do not wear the shirt you bought her? You dont sleep for days as you " keep record of this wrong" in your minds eye, my dear child?"

I had no defence.

I continued the acts of kindness but made sure i delivered it without expectation on my part.

I no longer " planned" my acts of kindness. There was no more strive. No more trying.
I just just did as ifelt led to do on the spur of the moment.

Some hing happened.
Acts of kindness started to come from her when i did not expect it.
Not at first.
But eventually.

My final lesson in love came when I went to help her with something, on her request.
As i stood back after assisting her, it was as if my eyes were unveiled.
I looked at her . she was totaly unaware of me looking at her and i saw her , what i belief, as God sees her.
I saw her insecurities, her heart, her fears, her loneliness, her dreams and wishes. I saw the child in her that never had a chance to develop…..all in a span of a few seconds.
And then i felt love towards her…..
Compassionate, overwhelming inexplicable love that had no expectations……
It did not come because i tried.
It came because i just decided to do.

TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.docx

When i have no words…

Your word says that if we draw close to You, You will draw close to us….

But Lord, how do we do this when we are drawn in so many different directions by our many roles as moms, wifes,daughters,sisters and friends.
Lord, i may as well be honest to You, for You know my heart anyway:most days i only have the " crumbs and scaps" of my day left to give You.
I dont want to…..but that is what i have.
Untill You can please open this " red sea" of my many responsibilities in front of me, i ask that You take my scraps, take my "five loafs and my two fish" and multiply it none the less. I pray that You will indeed show Yourselve strong in my weakness.
I pray that You grant me a willing spirit to sustain me and that You restore joy to my soul.
Your word says to come to You when we are weary…..it asks for nothing more( not even for my scraps and leftovers)…… You just ask one thing: and that is THAT I COME, just as i am, just where i find myself.
So i come to You Lord, when i have five minutes in the shower. I come to You when i have a wee on the loo. I come to You when i brush my teeth…..i have nothing to give. I dont have strenght to even talk. So i come at these " small stolen and weird moments"
I just incline my heart and soul to You and whisper:" Jesus"…
Its no lofty prayer, i know….but i know Your name is lofty and high!
Your word says that at the mention of Your name every knee and situation will have to bow. I know that by no other name salvation can be found. I know that no one can come to the Father but through Your name.
I know that whoever trusts in Your name will not be put to shame.
So i come…at these awkward stolen moments and i just whisper Your name.
I dont ask any thing. I dont state my case. Because i know that Your name alone will , make my situation bow and will save it. I know Your name alone will bring me and my troubled heart before the Father. Your name promises me that i wont stand in shame for too long.
Speak to me in these awkward stolen moments i pray…..for i, Your servant is listening…….

BOUNCING YOUR EYES

We have just gone through the process of revealing to our 11 yr old about the " birds and the bees"
Someone once said,that your first born is your "practice child". You are so inapt and inexperienced with being a parent first time round, that everything you try is by trial and error.
And so it is with us.
We were so nervous about having " this talk" with our son, we prayed a whole year in advance for God to show us the way, to prepare our sons heart and mind and to guide us!!
In the book we are using to guide us , it warns about the trap of ponography and suggests you teach your son the method of "bounching your eyes".
This involves the habit of immediately taking your eyes away at first glance when an inappropiate scenario present itself to you unexpectedly, whether on a screen, magazine, or in real " flesh".
The words of Casting Crowns puts it brilliantly:" its the second glance that ties the hands…"

This got me thinking.

This is really a valuable method to use in our spiritual walk too.
As mother, feeling the weight and importance of parenting my boys, i OFTEN go to bed pondering my mothering skills.
" Did i handle that disrespect my son showed me right? Was i too hard ? Was i too lenient?
What is it,that that mother in our church, whose children walk and talk so obediently and whose kids is up stage playing the drums in the worship team, doing different from me?"
I find myself pondering and pulling apart every misbehavior, every bad school report and disecting it…..fearing the worst outcome for my child. What if???
I do this in other areas of my life.
In my marraige,in my friendships….in my life in general.

When you learn how to drive a car, you quickly learn that what you focus on is what you are drawn to. If you look at someting too long on the side of the road while driving and you dont look ahead of you, you will find your vehicle veering off course.

I have also read that worrying is a negative way of meditation. To worry is to MEDITATE on the negative.

Yet Gods word is clear:
" whatever is good, pure, noble, lovely, praiseworthy, MEDITATE on such things….."
And the promise?
His supernatural peace will gaurd our hearts and minds.

It instructs us to fix our eyes on JESUS,
The promise?
That He will be the author and perfector of our faith.

So maybe.
Just maybe i must learn to also BOUNCE MY EYES.
When i feel worry creep up on me, i need to immediately bounce my eyes off what is causing me to fear and fix it on Jesus.
His Word says He never leaves nor forsake us.
In that case then,
I wilL deliberately bounce my eyes off my fear/ worry and ask God:" show me where YOU are in this? What would YOU have me do? What are YOU trying to show me in this?"

This way i take my eyes off myself by trying to figure out what i am doing wrong. It also helps me to take my eyes of the enemy trying to figure out how he is busy robbing me.

In the physical if i had to be bound by robbers, or incapacitated by a load that has fallen on top of me and has pinned me down, i may not be able to move.
But my eyes are controlled by my brain. I can move them around in my head.

Like wise i can will myself, no matter how pressing my situation is, no matter how incapacitated i feel by my situation,to bounce my spiritual eyes towards Jesus. My eyes dont need to be
downcast.
Its not that i am completely ignoring and denying my situation, because that would be closing my eyes or turning a blind eye. No i am choosing to bounce my eyes to God and saying to Him: "open my eyes and show me where You are in this. Show me what good is in this so i can be steered towards it."

Gods word says that He always provides a way out. But unless i look to Him for the answer by bouncingy eyes off my situation, i wont be able to SEE the way out.

Apart from that, if i continue to ponder on the
hoplessness of my situation, i will find myself steering to it and soon find myself in the pit of dispair and depression.
No! Instead i will bounce my eyes onto Gods promises that talks about HOPE,RENEWAL,HEALING,
REDEMPTION,
VICTORY.
And by faith i will find myself steering towards exactly that!!

The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little ones like these

Last night my husband me sat outside on the steps in the warm night air.
My 11 yr son was playing outside.
My two yr old was tinkering around too.
It was so good to JUST BE…….to sit quietly and just enjoy the moment.
The next thing we knew, m twonyr old was carrying out the couch pillows and throwing them down the steps by our feet. Within a few minutes, he had successfully buildt a mountain of pillows.
We let him be for two reasons:
One….it gave us a window of oppprtunity to just sit and relax and secondly everything in our house and the house itself is old and damaged anyway….
Mission now complete, he moved on to the next adventure: standing on his selfmade mountain and flopping down into it.
With each " flop down" he would disappear into the " depths of pillow mountain",
with just his top body sticking out.
This off course was great fun……for him…..and to a point for us as we were sharing in his delight.
But this meant our peace was coming to an end as my hubby or me kept having to rescue him out,as he held his hands up for us to pull him up.
This new adventure was repeated over and over and eventually my hubby warned him: " ok. Enough now my boy"

This fell on deaf ears off course.

Jordan just looked my hubby straight in the eyes and with a delightfull giggle flopped down just to stretch out his hands again to us while looking up at us with a radiant cuteness and delight that just could not evoke anger or irritation in us.

At that moment i understood what Jesus said, that the Kingdom of Heaven, belongs to those who can become like children.
When we seek to enjoy God and to WANT to include Him into our daily life, when we look up to Him with delight and just our plain human self…. No hidden agendas, no trying to impress or perform………my oh my……how we must tug at our Heavenly Fathers heart too……and suddenly our request( prayers) surely too grabs hold of Heaven ……as we hold out our arms to Him in surrender,expectation and trust…….

THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH

I remember how i used to play "dress up " in my grans high heels and long skirts. I used to lick smarties and then apply their color to my eyes and lips. I used to pull my moms petticoats over my head and imagine that the long silky material hanging down my back was a stunning display of hair.
I used to play " house" where i cooked and cleaned with zest.

As i left my childhood behind and stepped into teenage shoes, my imaginary games seized being acted out but continued being alive in my mind. I would dream about having my own money, my own house and car,my own freedom and the space to make my own choices without parental eyes and ears kneehaltering everything i wanted to do.

EVENTUALLY, what felt like forever, the time came to leave my teenage years behind and actually step into my colour full, imaginary world and live my dreams! Such freedom!! Such endless opportunities!! So much to explore and experience…….and the best of it all: no one to tell me how, when ,where and how!!

That was 24 years ago.
I am now 42.

Been married for twenty.
Two boys :age 10 and 2.
Just changed jobs after 16 years in one vocation.

I am tired on more levels than one.

I find myself looking at my children and envying the simplicity of their life.
My entire chilhood, i dreamed about being " big".
Now i find myself wishing to be small and young again.
I detest and find my freedom of choice i so longed for, burdensome and somedays frightfull.
Daily i have to make numerous decisions on parenting, finances, marriage. The choices are endless and so is the resultant consequences…….
I often battle sleepless nights as i toss and turn ,wondering if i made right choices.
I often have to fight off depression as i am overwhelmed by responsibility. I long for someone to just make decisions for me and tell me what to do. How i would love for someone else to worry about how they are going to pay the bills or clean the yard or fix the burst pipes or flat car tyre!
How i wish someone else could
" doctor or nurse " me back to health when i am sick.
I wish someone else will cook and clean – its not as much fun as i thought.

Being " big" has not turned out to be as thrilling as i imagined all those years.
Yet i know i am blessed. I have a wonderfull strong marriage. My boys are healthy and beautifull.

" I should not feel like this,Lord."

‘ we are all Gods children’

This familiar saying enters my troubled thoughts like a sudden comet from nowhere, followed by bursts of familiar verses where God likens Himself as our father.

Its only days later that I understand the full impact of
" this comet"

I am playing with my two yr old by the rock pools on the beach. Its a new experience for him. He clings frighfully to me and wills himself to keep a safe distance from the waves, albeit them being gentle tidal waves.
I pick him up and while holding him, i demonstate to him how i run towards the oncoming gentle waves and " catch" them and jump into them. I show him how to find the hollow buckets formed by the rocks and how to sit in it and find the " treasures" of colorfull pebbles and shells within their bellies.
Soon he overcomes his fear
and two hours later, with skin shrivelled up from being in the water too long and his cheeks and shoulders rosy and warm not just from too much sun but also excitement, i now have to pull him away from that which he earlier was too scared to attempt.

"Lord, enable me to allow You to show me too, how to find fun and enjoyment in the midsts of the rocks of my daily path.
Show me how to gauge the ebb and flow of the waves in my life so i dont have to be hit over by them or run in fear from them but meet them face on. Show me how to frolick in the daily low tides waves of my ordinary daily routine .
Help me discover the rockpools that has been carved out by the mundane,yet constant sameness of everyday and may i too take the time to linger long enough in them to discover their treasures.
Teach me and demonstrate to me how to find joy in the midsts of my daily life.

A few days later i am sitting down haggered and exhausted. Me and the kids have been up with vomiting and diarrhoea. I have just hung the last towel and sheet. The sheet is fluttering in the wind. My two year old screeches in delight as he stands underneath the flapping sheet, trying to grab it as the wind flaps it backwards and forwards.

I sit and watch him, delighting myself in watching his delight.

Most days i feel overwhelmed with the stark reality that i need to teach my sons and model to them how to live right.
I take this call to mother very serious.
Every opportunity i get,i try and teach them lessons.

And yet on days ,like today, when i am tired and demotivated., i find that in moments like these, it is my children that teach ME.

"Lord, as an add on to my
‘ rockpool prayer’, open my eyes to recognise when Your Spirit is blowing through my day. Let me stop and enjoy the small moments of my " big world" and allow myself to find the fun and laughter in the small things of my ordinary day.

There is a difference between joy and happiness.
I AM happy.
My life is full and blessed.
But most days i just survive…..i am too tired and overwhelmed to enjoy it.

Teach me Lord……how to be a child again.
Teach me the art of childhood joy.

As a deer pants for water.

In the book of Psalms, David makes the well known statement:" as a deer pants for water, so my soul thirst for You Lord"

I have often read it and even sang the song that was based on this psalm.
I would read or sing these words and ever so often i would look at the people around me singing it.
Some would stand motion and expressionless and " just sing"
Some would have their hands stretched heavenward and with contorted faces sing along.
I looked at everyone around me, while simultaneously looking within MYSELF.
I would stand there and wonder:" are they REALLY thirsting, or are they ,like me , trying to will myself and convince myself ( and maybe even convincing others)that i am truely thirsting after God?

For i know in God alone i can be safe, satisfied, healed,protected,guided. But to actually be desperate for Gods presence…to THIRST……

I have cried out to God before in pain,anguish and anger,but i have never really THIRSTED for Him.
On my lifes journey when i was in the pit of depression, devout of any feeling or sense of purpose ,my senses were so numb. For me my depression was the closest i could imagine with my human mind what hell would be like, because it was a dark, suffocating,lonely and fearfull place.
But it was devout of any sense or feeling. No emotions, no appetite and hence definately no thirst.
No, even in my depression i can not claim that my soul thirsted for God.
What i longed for was to once again walk in The Light and have purpose guide my steps.
I craved deliverance from my darkness.
I cannot claimed i thirsted for God.

In times of pain or disillusionment i have cried out in anguish and anger at God. I was desperate yes. Desperate to be delivered from my circumstances , but even in this i cannot claimed that i thirsted for God.

In times of fear and uncertainty, i have clung to God for peace and direction. But even here what i longed for was deliverance from my anxiety.
I cannot really claim i thirsted for God.

It was only when i willingly decided to withdraw from people and God and just be still and know that God is, that the true meaning of this became of meaning to me.

I was responsibility overtaxed.
In short: burned out.
Not depressed.
Not anxious.
Not hopeless.
Just pulled in so many directions for so many years, i could not stretch any further.
So i took time out from people…..and from God.

My faith was deep enough to know He would never leave or forsake me and that He Himself commands us to just be still and just KNOW He exist.
My faith was mature enough to know my salvation was secured.

I did not read my bible.
I did not go to church.
I did not listen to worship songs. And i completely withdrew from all people.
I just was.
I just was ….a mom and a wife……no more.

I knew i could not live on bread alone, so i did play my worship songs while cooking and cleaning. I did try and read a verse here and there between a monsterous to-do-list.

Then one morning as i walked to work, instead of trying to pray through my list of thoughts, i decided to just plug my earphones in my ears and not think, but just listen to worship music.
It was not that i was seeking God.
I merely wanted to distract my very busy mind.
I just wanted to forget all the responsibility and worry.

I am not sure if it was because the earphones blocked out the traffic sounds around me, or the fact that one can hear the music so much more in detail when its plugged next to your eardrum, but as the music played i listened to Gods word transformed into lyrics. I listened with more than my ears, i listened with my heart. I meditated on the words of truth sung and in my minds eye, i imagined the greatness, the magnitude, the mercy and love of my God that was being sung about.
And suddenly i felt something in the pit of my stomach…..it was like air was sucked out from me and as i allowed the music, the words and the mental images it conjured, to enter in,it was asof water trickeled in and satisfied! Something i did not know i lacked.
Through tears i felt my soul gasp,sucking in whatever it was that was taking place.
" oh God…..oh God……." Is all i could whisper through tears.
" i miss You Lord….."

I dont think " thirsting after God" is something we can, or need to will.
Its not something we have to muster up or try to attain.
It is something we are born with – an inert thirst to see our Makers face.
Spirit is born of Spirit.

Someone once wrote: our soul is restless untill it finds its rest in God.

I dont think modern man knows what real thirst is in the true physical sense.
But we all know what a craving is.
Thirsting and craving is probably closely related.

When people get councilled to help them to stop smoking, they are taught that a craving last only three minutes. If you can distract yourself from grabbing a cigarette for three minutes, the intense desire will pass.
I think thirsting for God is a natural need,but we have become so distracted, so focussed on other things,that we have suppressed that craving.

But it is there.
It depends what one focus or meditate on.